Chess tournament director to sue for defamation over dress row

Sophian Yusof (left) with his lawyer Mohd Harris Al-Haji Abdullah speaking at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur on May 10, 2017. — Picture by Tarrence Tan
Sophian Yusof (left) with his lawyer Mohd Harris Al-Haji Abdullah speaking at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur on May 10, 2017. — Picture by Tarrence Tan

KKUALA LUMPUR, May 10 — Sophian Yusof, the Putrajaya chess tournament director at the centre of a dress code controversy a few weeks back, has engaged a group of lawyers to take legal action against those he said had defamed him, including politicians.

The director of the National Scholastic Chess Championship said his lawyers will send out letters of demand by next week.

“Even after making the denial, I found that this issue is still ongoing and it had became worse. After discussing with my family members and my lawyer, we decided that a legal action is necessary to refute all allegations hurled at me,” he told a news conference here.

Accompanying Sophian was lawyer Mohd Harris Al-Haji Abdullah who told reporters that one of the people to be named in the lawsuit is Kaushal Khandar, chess coach to the 12-year-old female participant in the April tournament and among the first to allege discrimination over his charge’s attire.

“My client has not only been embarrassed and slandered in Malaysia but all over the world. We must put a stop to this and we will be immediately commencing action against Kaushal as soon as we get his full particulars.

“There are also politicians who used this issue for their respective political mileage and my firm will sent them a notice soon,” the lawyer said.

The lawyer said they are also compiling a list of others who allegedly defamed the chess official, and warned the public to cease making further remarks on the matter.

According to Harris, Sophian is seeking both an apology and damages from those he intends to sue.

He also claimed to possess a photograph of the girl’s dress that showed it to be shorter than an image previously shared with the initial complain on social media.

“During the tournament, the skirt was a bit higher than the knee which was against regulations,” he said.

“One is above the knee and another is below the knee... looks like the evidence on the Internet was doctored and tailored to make it look bad.”

He declined to share the photograph, saying it will be tendered as evidence in the lawsuit.

The controversy was started by Facebook posts claiming the 12-year-old girl was forced to withdraw from the tournament as her knee-length black-and-red striped dress was deemed “seductive”.

The girl’s mother, Chin Wai Ling, claimed the chief arbiter had interrupted the game to object to the “inappropriate” dress, despite it not being “revealing”.

Chin further claimed that she was told “the school will not allow the children to use the hall if we were to turn up in a dress”, even though the World Chess Federation Laws of Chess only required participants to portray a “dignified appearance” without spelling out what can and cannot be worn.

Last week, Sophian lodged reports with both the police and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission over the issue.

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